Church buys old Coupeville fire station

The building that houses two popular charities in Coupeville could soon have a new owner.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church made a $198,000 offer to purchase the old fire station building located on North Main Street near Whidbey General Hospital.

The building houses the Coupeville Boys and Girls Club and Gifts from the Heart Food Bank.

Purchasing the building will give the church space to expand, although there aren’t any current plans, said Fr. Philip Raether, pastor of St. Mary’s.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Raether said Monday. As the population of the town of Coupeville has grown, so has the number of people worshiping at St. Mary’s.

The old fire station, which is adjacent to the Catholic church on North Main Street, was used by Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue for years until a new one was built next to Whidbey General Hospital. The old building is wedged between the church, city shops and Whidbey General Hospital.

Since the fire district moved into its new building, it has been used by the two groups to disperse food to needy families and as a safe place for children to hang out. The arrangement raised concerns with state auditors because the fire district owned resources that aren’t directly related to its mission.

Joe Biller, chief of Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, said the offer from St. Mary’s was the most responsive of the three offers made. He said Coupeville resident Molly Hughes also made an offer, but wouldn’t name the private couple who made the third offer.

Both the Boys and Girls Club and Gifts from the Heart have a lease for the building until the end of next year.

Raether said he is looking forward to working with the two groups and the community.

There are several hurdles that have to be crossed before the deal is finalized. The property has to be surveyed to determine the exact location of power and water lines. The church asked for a month’s extension on the closing date to determine the location of those utility lines. If they prove to be in a place where it would be too costly to build, then the Archdiocese, which is the owner of the church, wouldn’t approve the sale, Raether said.

Biller, however, said the utility line concerns shouldn’t be a deal breaker for the pending sale of the building.

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